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Pimples Around Your Mouth: Why You Get Them and What You Can Do About It

So, you’re not a kid anymore, but you’ve noticed a collection of pimples that keep popping up around your mouth. You thought you left your adolescent acne behind, but it seems like it isn’t quite done with you yet.

More than 50 million Americans struggle with acne every year, and the number of adults facing this condition is increasing. Oddly, rather than finding these petulant pustules all over your face — and perhaps your back, shoulders and chest — they seem to only appear in one area, and you can’t figure out why.

If you have pimples around your mouth, your acne may be caused by factors different from those you had as a teenager. Here's the deal and where to get help.

Defining Acne

Acne is a persistent and common skin condition. It occurs when hair follicles become plugged with dead skin cells, oil from the sebaceous glands, and often bacteria. Acne around your mouth can take any one of several forms, including some of the most severe and painful types of acne.

Identifying Your Pimples

If you have pimples around your mouth, grab a mirror and let's get some terminology straight. This next part will help you identify what type of acne formation you have, though a dermatologist can make a definitive diagnosis for the right treatment for your condition.

  • Blackheads: This is the mildest form of acne. The pores are slightly raised but flat on top and dark brown to black in color.
  • Whiteheads: Next up on the severity scale is whiteheads, which are small white bumps caused by trapped bacteria.
  • Papules: These little red bumps are slightly tender due to the beginnings of an infection.
  • Pimples: This general term for any blemish on the face is really the name given to papules when the infection leads to the formation of pus at the tips.
  • Nodules: Nearing the top of the severity scale, nodules are large, solid-feeling bumps painful to the touch.
  • Cystic lesions: This is the top. When infections within nodules continue, pus fills the bumps that form under the skin.

The more severe the form, the more painful the condition. Whether you look in the mirror and see raging cysts or plump pimples, it isn’t fun, and it can make you want to stick your head in the sand. 

Knowing why you have the condition can help you figure out what to do about it.

Understanding the Causes

When you’re a teenager, you don’t like having a giant, red pimple (or five) pop up right before your first date… but you at least expect it. 

Not so when you notice a parade of pimples around your mouth in adulthood.

When you consistently have breakouts in one area, there may be a specific reason for it. Since clogged pores result in pimples, any behavioral, environmental or biological factors that lead to a plugged pore can lead to those molehills around your mouth. Common potential causes include:

  • Wearing makeup that clogs the pores
  • Touching your face often
  • Using a pillowcase that has an excess of bacteria on it
  • Holding your mobile phone next to your face

Since trapped bacteria is a frequent source of infections that lead to more severe cases of acne, anything you do that transfers excess microbes to your skin is a potential culprit. It may be impossible not to touch your face, but if you stopped to count how many times you do this in a day, you’d be astounded. It’s a substantial potential source of bacteria that could be wreaking havoc on your complexion.

Many of the products people use can also be a source of trouble, from shaving creams to makeup. 

The research on how food contributes to acne is conflicting, and much of the information out there indicates that what you eat or drink doesn’t lead to acne, though research conducted since 2005 reveals that the Western diet could be a potential exacerbating issue. More work is needed in this area, but your eating habits may contribute to acne.

Preventing a Breakout

First step: avoiding a breakout is ideal. 

“A little late for that,” you say as you look in the mirror. Not exactly. Sure, you may need to contend with what’s there now, but if you start taking steps immediately to prevent future eruptions you’ll be one step ahead of the game after you eliminate your current bout. Proactive preventive steps can also help you manage the symptoms you have now. Here are some tips:

  • Choose the right foundation: If you wear makeup, especially foundation, choose those made without heavy oils. These are usually labeled oil-free or noncomedogenic, which are less likely to clog your pores.
  • Shave with care: If you shave your face, you have two potential pimple-inducing factors — your shaving cream and your blades. Make sure you opt for products made for sensitive skin. You should also wash your face before and after you shave, rinse with every swipe of the blade, and swap out your blade before it gets dull – nicks and cuts can let bacteria in.
  • Wipe your mouth: Take care to wipe your mouth when you’ve finished eating. It doesn’t take much for a tiny food particle or greasy residue to clog a pore and turn into a pimple. Greasy foods may be comfort food until they result in a major breakout, so avoid these if you’re prone to acne around your mouth.
  • Lose the lip balm or lipstick: If you reach for the lip balm every winter (or any time) and blast it on and around your lips, it might be time to rethink your approach. Though intended to moisten dry lips, lip balm and lipstick can easily clog pores surrounding your lips and cause an acne breakout. Go easy and stay in the lines. 

You should also wash your face at least once or twice a day, using plain warm water or a gentle cleanser, particularly if you wear makeup. On days that you sweat a lot, it may be a good idea to clean your face more often.

Treating a Troublesome Condition

Taking care of what you’ve got going on right now, and get ahead of the next breakout, requires a little more than just paying attention to what goes on your face. 

Most people can benefit from prescription skincare ingredients, many of which have been around and in use for decades. Dermatologists are exceptionally familiar with FDA-approved products and ingredients that include:

  • Tretinoin: A synthetic form of Vitamin A that promotes healthy cell turnover
  • Clindamycin: An antibiotic that reduces the growth of bacteria
  • Niacinamide: A derivative of B3 that prevents acne-causing inflammation

If you have out-of-control pimples around your mouth, Nava MD is here to help. 

Our telemedicine platform streamlines the dermatology process so you can access custom acne prescription treatments from home, if appropriate, with free shipping and access to your physician any time. It’s the most affordable and easy dermatology visit, all done online. 

Start fighting your symptoms with Nava MD.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency